Parties submit cases in McDonald’s appeal

Willow Brook Centre: Planning appeal in progress.

The parties involved in the Willow Brook Centre’s appeal against a decision to refuse planning permission for additional development at the town centre site have been making their final written submissions to the Planning Inspectorate.

The centre wants to build two new drive-through food and drink units (foreseen to be occupied by McDonald’s and Starbucks) and is also seeking outline permission to add two new units to the existing retail terrace (beyond Poundstretcher), with an associated reconfiguration of the car park.

The proposals have proved controversial because of the proximity of the drive-through units to residential properties in Wheatfield Drive, with the single-storey Starbucks being just 22m away from the nearest dwelling. The adjacent two-storey McDonald’s building would be 50m distant.

The centre has taken the case to appeal after two different planning committees at South Gloucestershire Council refused permission on the grounds that allowing it would result in “a harmful concentration of food and drink uses resulting in a prejudicial impact on residential amenity due to noise, general disturbance, fumes, smells, and late night activity”. It was also ruled that the proposals “fail to promote the economic, social and environmental character of the area”.

Following on from the submission of the appellant’s ‘statement of case’ (reported in a previous article), an ‘appeal statement’ has now been submitted by consultants acting on behalf of the council.

The two parties have also agreed a ‘statement of common ground’, which confirms that the reasons for refusal relate only to the two proposed food and drink units, i.e. the proposed retail terrace expansion is acceptable to the council.

In the statement, the council confirms that the general principle of building two drive-through food and drinks units at some location within the town centre site is acceptable. It is also agreed that proximity to schools does not relate to any aspect of the reasons for refusal.

The parties are also agreed that “the proposals would not be harmful based on the number and distribution of food and drink units at the Willow Brook Centre or wider area of Bradley Stoke”.

Whilst the need for additional conditions on any potential planning permission is not agreed between the parties, the appellant reiterates a previous statement that a condition restricting the opening hours of the food units to 6am-11pm for Starbucks and 6am-midnight (Sun-Thu) / 6am-1am (Fri & Sat) for McDonald’s would be acceptable if the inspector considered this would “serve a purpose in limiting disturbance”.

The council’s own statement contends that the location of the proposed food and drink units (close to the present Waves hand car wash) will have the effect of “breaking the consolidated form of the shopping centre … drawing some expenditure and footfall from the principal shopping area”. It adds that an alternative location closer to the existing shop units “would subvert the identified impact on existing residents which have formed the basis for refusing planning permission”.

Whilst acknowledging that the proposed drive-through units “will have some economic benefit through the provision of additional employment”, the council argues that the benefits are not sufficient to outweigh the harm or the conflict with policy.

According to a source at the Planning Inspectorate, a decision on the appeal is unlikely to be made before the end of October.

This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 23). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

The appeal documents referred to above may be viewed on the SGC planning portal under application reference PT18/1491/O (on the ‘Documents’ tab).

To read the full history of the case, visit our Planning Applications of Note page or the archive of posts with the PT18/1491/O tag.

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